A question of worship and Christmas

Status
Not open for further replies.

James 1689

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello everyone. I wanted to ask a question concerning the Christmas celebration. I hope this is the right forum for it deals with worship in general. This past Lord's day at the evening service I was teaching through the confession (1689) chapter 22 concerning the regulative principle of worship in the church service. We were discussing Christmas celebrations and how we as a church do not hold to having cantatas or specials. When I was asked by a member if it is biblical or a faithful holding to the regulative principle of worship to celebrate Christmas as a family in general. They gave a good discussion on why one should not. Not just getting rid of Santa, but the whole celebration of trees, gifts, and etc... I would be grateful for some insight for it was a good question and discussion. Thank you for your time and response.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
This discussion inevitably breaks down because of confusing what has become civil observance of a holiday and actual religious observance of a holy day. On the latter, the regulative principle of worship holds sway. This day came into observance at first as private devotions without any expected obligation on others. As such it may not have been originally will worship (hard to say). As things tend to do, this later became a church observed holy day and a part of the idol church calendar of the RCC. Presbyterians in Scotland tossed that idol out and others contended for the same thing elsewhere where that action was not taken. It is a shame the calendar was reintroduced by liberals into Presbyterianism. Use of the old pretended holy days is at best identifying with that old idol once cast out and will lead to worse, which also is clear in recent Presbyterian history. I am more convinced now that even the seemingly harmless intent to simply use the time of year to preach nativity sermons is too much identifying with past and ongoing will worship and idolatry. It paves the way or is actually cover for more than just said topical sermon, for giving the people the trappings they want. Remember, the consumer is always right; but here the consumer is God (a point made effectively in the new Spirit and Truth documentary). Yes; Calvin preached a nativity sermon, but this was set up in a way to make clear it was a break with the past idolatry, was only a sermon, and had no trappings of any pretended holy day, and Calvin confronted the people's idolatrous expectations. Do that and keep your pastorate.... People should tamp down their expectations and be satisfied with the prescribed worship of God without imposing cultural or superstitious expectations.

On the holiday aspects, I'm becoming convinced the holiday type stuff, gifts, tree, etc., which are governed not by the RPW but by other scriptural rules (offense, use of things allegedly indifferent) also will simply serve the same thing. Parents may not intend it, but children or grandchildren will turn it from just something cultural to an idol again. Sorry for such a morose take; but this is after 36 years of dealing with this question in my mind.
See http://www.cpjournal.com/articles-2...sm-and-the-religious-observance-of-christmas/
On the aspect that the pretended holy days are idols and as such monuments to old and current idolatry, See sections of George Gillespie's EPC here: http://www.naphtali.com/articles/
 

James 1689

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you, brother, for the input and the references to look at. I know some in the discussion were quoting Romans 14:5 as justification for in the home celebration.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you, brother, for the input and the references to look at. I know some in the discussion were quoting Romans 14:5 as justification for in the home celebration.
Only if it is truly indifferent; as I say, there are a lot of reason's to show the danger and downside; hence can something with such dangers truly be indifferent. That is where I would take the argument to at least bring it to a stalemate. Besides, Romans 14:5 has to do with the days of God's prior appointing in the OT, not pagan days or days that have become idols appointed by nothing but human invention.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Graduate
@James 1689 I think your views relating to church practice are spot on. Chris gives great thoughts. My own views are still developing. Personally I try to avoid tying this man-made season to Christ. Our kids hear about Santa from others and we tell them the truth that he is an idolatrous (he is given God's attributes) lie. Regarding the personal non-religious festive stuff (snowmen, giving gifts, and building gingerbread houses), I am still chewing on those. I found the below helpful about a year ago.

http://www.apuritansmind.com/puritan-worship/christmas-and-the-regulative-principle/
:detective:
 
Last edited:

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Christmas has nothing to do with worship in church or private worship. It’s like saying “should we use Memorial Day as a holy day?” it’s just silly.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Christmas has nothing to do with worship in church or private worship. It’s like saying “should we use Memorial Day as a holy day?” it’s just silly.
Actually this is not true. The evangelical church is all about putting Christ back into it after all. Look at the candlelight services and the ceremonies invented and going on even in Presbyterian churches. So while it can be simply a day off, it is not simply that because the church in the past and presently make it a holy day.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Actually this is not true. The evangelical church is all about putting Christ back into it after all. Look at the candlelight services and the ceremonies invented and going on even in Presbyterian churches. So while it can be simply a day off, it is not simply that because the church in the past and presently make it a holy day.

I’m not saying that churches don’t do this I’m saying that it’s silly for anyone anywhere to act like Christmas is a holy day. It’s a secular holiday just like any other holiday.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
It maybe should be; but it was, has been and still is a holy day on the ecclesiastical calendar, which is a thing in the RCC and other churches which make up Christendom world wide. So it was long before the secular states a holy day and still is.
I’m not saying that churches don’t do this I’m saying that it’s silly for anyone anywhere to act like Christmas is a holy day. It’s a secular holiday just like any other holiday.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
It maybe should be; but it was, has been and still is a holy day on the ecclesiastical calendar, which is a thing in the RCC and other churches which make up Christendom world wide. So it was long before the secular states a holy day and still is.
Well, if we want to be absolutely technical it was a pagan holiday first which the Catholic brought into their church worship but I repeat myself. Then later silly people put it into Protestant churches.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Well, if we want to be absolutely technical it was a pagan holiday first which the Catholic brought into their church worship but I repeat myself. Then later silly people put it into Protestant churches.
And it is still there in the RCC and Protestant church, which is the point actually. This is why it needs to be addressed as a holy day problem and as well any consequent problems in the holiday observance.
 

jw

Administrator
The LORD has commanded that we meet one day in seven to:

1. Commune with Himself and His people in the singing of Psalms, lifting up of prayers, partaking of the Word & Sacrament, such that we may
2. Reflect, meditate, and chew upon, celebrate, and giving praise for the redemption of God that is found in He Who is preeminent in all things, the LORD Jesus Christ
3. Wherein we consider His incarnation, life, perfect-law keeping, sinless death & sacrifice, subsequent resurrection from the dead, intercession for His people, His conquering of all His and their enemies (including the world, the flesh, and the devil), and our communing with Him for all eternity.​

That's at least 52 times a year, sometimes 53. Add to that the other-days daily privilege of secretly communing with the LORD in prayer, bible reading, meditation, and -for those with such providences- family worship, then the six days labor and recreation given us, that's quite a full calendar. These are the things revealed and commanded to us. But the secret things (the day of Christ's birth, the day of His death, the day of His resurrection), those are not given to us. Nor have they ever been commanded of us to separate out as days of devotion (outside of the context mentioned above).

The LORD has not ordered them, and He certainly has not given the days upon which those particular historical happenings occurred, and it seems quite presumptuous and willful to assert those things, especially making them acts of devotion, especially based on things never commanded by Him Who is asserted to be the Object of those devotions. But we seek out inventions, even earnestly and well-meaning. Things not commanded. If the LORD has forbidden the continuance of observing days He once commanded to a church under age (Galatians 4, Colossians 3), how much moreso then does He reject the will-worship of raising up days He has never commanded, nor that ever "came it into [His] mind," (Jeremiah 19.5; 32.35)?

So, with these thoughts in mind, we must ask, "Why do I practice what I practice during this time of the year?" It's quite irrelevant whether it's personally, as a family, or corporately. Why December 25th? Where is that commanded? One day in seven, I have a command for. December 25th, I do not. Is this a vestige and monument of past idolatry? Well, I think it is, no matter how sentimental our ties are to it. Is this will-worship? Not God's will, as there is no command for it. Here are some good thoughts from the Westminster Divines (Westminster Larger Catechism, my emphases added):

Q. 109. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counselling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all, or of any of the three Persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshipping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.

Num. 15:39; Deut. 13:6-8; Hos. 5:11; Mic. 6:16; 1 Kings 11:33; 1 Kings 12: 33; Deut. 12:30-32; Deut. 13:6-12; Zech. 13:2-3; Rev. 2:2, 14-15, 20; Rev. 17:12, 16-17; Deut. 4:15-19; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:21-23, 25; Dan. 3:18; Gal. 4:8; Ex. 32:5; Ex. 32:8; 1 Kings 18:26, 28; Isa. 65:11; Acts 17:22; Col. 2:21-23; Mal. 1:7-8, 14; Deut. 4:2; Ps. 106:39; Matt. 15:9; 1 Pet. 1:18; Jer. 44:17; Isa. 65:3-5; Gal. 1:13-14; 1 Sam. 13:11-12; 1 Sam. 15:21; Acts 8:18; Rom. 2:22; Mal. 3:8; Ex. 4:24-26; Matt. 22:5; Mal. 1:7, 13; Matt. 23:13; Acts 13:44-45; 1 Thess. 2:15-16.​
 

Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

Puritan Board Sophomore
It maybe should be; but it was, has been and still is a holy day on the ecclesiastical calendar, which is a thing in the RCC and other churches which make up Christendom world wide. So it was long before the secular states a holy day and still is.
Indeed, I would much rather see the entire day just fall into utter secularism than continue to pollute the Church. This year I have seen several images of Santa Clause kneeling before a manger or the infant Christ. I don’t know what it is supposed to mean, but it absolutely tasteless.
 

hammondjones

Puritan Board Junior
My wife and I were just remarking the other day that the only people that agree with us on Christmas being religious are the Messianic Jews (but, of course, many more disagreements). We got rid of all our nativity scenes, but we kept the tree. We basically do all of the pagan stuff; everyone loves a change in season. We just try to keep Christ out of Saturnalia. (Which, when I feel snarky, I think would make an excellent bumper sticker).
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Junior
Well, if we want to be absolutely technical it was a pagan holiday first which the Catholic brought into their church worship but I repeat myself. Then later silly people put it into Protestant churches.

Whether you agree with the appropriateness of celebrating Christmas or not, this is just untrue.

Christians began celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th completely prior to and / or independently of any Roman / Pagan practices related to Sol Invictus / Saturnalia / Winter Solstice.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I don't know when the custom began if it was observed otherwise than a formal appointed holy day, but it is true that it became a church holy day in the RCC before 336 because of the difficulty stamping out the observance of Saturnalia (see "Christmas" in The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1974). This Gillespie reports in his English Popish Ceremonies (1636), "the idolatrous Saturnalia of the Romans which was adopted as a popish festival"). However, when at the second reformation in Scotland when it came time to throw off the pretended holy days once again, it was not argued on the basis of any origins in paganism, but in will worship and in the gross idolatry that the days had become.
Whether you agree with the appropriateness of celebrating Christmas or not, this is just untrue.

Christians began celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th completely prior to and / or independently of any Roman / Pagan practices related to Sol Invictus / Saturnalia / Winter Solstice.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hello everyone. I wanted to ask a question concerning the Christmas celebration. I hope this is the right forum for it deals with worship in general. This past Lord's day at the evening service I was teaching through the confession (1689) chapter 22 concerning the regulative principle of worship in the church service. We were discussing Christmas celebrations and how we as a church do not hold to having cantatas or specials. When I was asked by a member if it is biblical or a faithful holding to the regulative principle of worship to celebrate Christmas as a family in general. They gave a good discussion on why one should not. Not just getting rid of Santa, but the whole celebration of trees, gifts, and etc... I would be grateful for some insight for it was a good question and discussion. Thank you for your time and response.
(Peering at your thumbnail photo.) Do you have some kind of personal stake in this topic, Sant... er, James?
 

James 1689

Puritan Board Freshman
@James 1689 I think your views relating to church practice are spot on. Chris gives great thoughts. My own views are still developing. Personally I try to avoid tying this man-made season to Christ. Our kids hear about Santa from others and we tell them the truth that he is an idolatrous (he is given God's attributes) lie. Regarding the personal non-religious festive stuff (snowmen, giving gifts, and building gingerbread houses) I am still chewing on those. I found the below helpful about a year ago.

http://www.apuritansmind.com/puritan-worship/christmas-and-the-regulative-principle/
:detective:
Thanks, brother I will look into this link.
 

James 1689

Puritan Board Freshman
(Peering at your thumbnail photo.) Do you have some kind of personal stake in this topic, Sant... er, James?
I have indeed been called father Christmas at the school I work at. It was some guy named Nicholas there was a slap and well you know the rest of the story :)
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Whether you agree with the appropriateness of celebrating Christmas or not, this is just untrue.

Christians began celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th completely prior to and / or independently of any Roman / Pagan practices related to Sol Invictus / Saturnalia / Winter Solstice.
I have thought that the origin of the midwinter holy day was not much in doubt. (See, for instance, the appropration of pagan customs, such as decorating a tree.) Could you point to any sources to support your view?
 
U

Username3000

Guest
The 3 eBook bundle is $5.00 right now. Granted, it is American funds.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
So while it can be simply a day off, it is not simply that because the church in the past and presently make it a holy day.

And a day for selling things. I noted with irony an email I got from Reformation Heritage Books with the subject: "Christmas Specials!"
 
U

Username3000

Guest
And a day for selling things. I noted with irony an email I got from Reformation Heritage Books with the subject: "Christmas Specials!"
Yes, because we all know that selling and making a profit is their primary goal, and not putting sound Christian literature into the hands of men and women.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top